3. If the proboscis does not extend naturally, help it out by uncurling it with a toothpick. Carefully place the toothpick into the center of the curled proboscis. It will look like a coiled watch spring. Then gently uncurl it until it makes contact with the feeding pad. You may have to hold it in place for a minute or so before the butterfly begins feeding.
4. Once the drinking tube is extended, watch for any up-and-down pumping action of the proboscis. If no motion is detected, take the forefinger and thumb of each hand and hold the butterfly’s front wings near the front edges. Hold each front wing, one between each set of your fingers, as close to the butterfly’s body as possible.
5. Begin to move the wings up and down in a flapping motion. This action may start the suction inside the proboscis and draw the needed food into your patient.
And in the meantime, if you have any garden space, please consider planting some butterfly-friendly plants. Monarchs especially are having a hard row to hoe. Their numbers are dwindling due to severe weather and habitat conversion where they over-winter in Mexico. In addition, the loss of milkweed (which they require) due to the overzealous use of agricultural herbicides is causing great concern.
Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas, has asked the public to pitch in, he encourages gardeners, homeowners, schools, governments and businesses to plant monarch “way stations” consisting of milkweeds and other butterfly plants, in hopes that the dedicated habitats will sustain a threatened population during its migration.